What You Can Do If You're Having Trouble Getting Pregnant

For millions of couples, fulfilling their dream of having a child can be a long and difficult journey. They’ve often spent money and time early on in life trying not to get pregnant, only to learn that when they’re ready to start a family, it’s not as easy as they thought.

Infertility can be extremely stressful for individuals and couples and can often lead to feelings of frustration, guilt, and in some cases, depression.

One of the best ways to deal with these natural and normal feelings is to become educated about infertility and your treatment options. Whether you’re just beginning your fertility journey or have completed previous fertility treatment, it’s important to learn as much as you can to better understand your situation.

Understanding Infertility

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that interferes with a couple’s ability to have a baby. Infertility can affect both men and women of all races and ethnicity.

For most people, the only sign of infertility is not being able to get pregnant. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, people should see a fertility specialist if:

  • You’re under the age of 35 and you’ve been having regular, unprotected intercourse for a year and you haven’t gotten pregnant.
  • You’re age 35 or older and you’ve been having regular, unprotected intercourse for six months and you haven’t gotten pregnant.
  • You’re having irregular periods or have underlying problems that you suspect might affect fertility (like fibroid tumors or endometriosis).

It’s important to understand that infertility affects 15-20 percent of all couples and the majority of couples who undergo fertility treatment will become pregnant.

Overcoming Infertility

The first step in overcoming infertility is to learn what’s causing it. Normally, the steps in the initial diagnostic process take about one menstrual cycle – a month – to complete.

  1. Make an appointment with an infertility specialist (reproductive endocrinologist) for a comprehensive evaluation and customized recommendations for treatment based on your personal situation. Reproductive endocrinologists have completed a fellowship beyond their obstetrics and gynecology training and concentrate only on infertility.
  1. Complete a medical history and medical record review for both partners.
  1. Have additional diagnostic testing if recommended. Tests may include:
      • Blood tests to look at hormones (women)
      • Imaging (ultrasound and x-ray to check for blocked tubes)
      • Semen analysis (men)

Making a Treatment Plan

Your doctor will explain all important results from any testing you have done and describe your choices for treatment and chances of getting pregnant with each treatment option.

Treatment options may include:

  • Medications to help with ovulation
  • Intrauterine insemination: Using a catheter tube to place the semen into the uterus
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF): Fertilizing eggs with sperm in a laboratory and later placing an embryo back in the uterus to grow
  • Surgery to treat fibroids, endometriosis, or scar tissue affecting the reproductive organs

What to Remember

Couples are often concerned about being pushed into aggressive and expensive IVF treatment cycles right away, when in fact the majority of people try less costly and invasive options first and never end up needing IVF. You may also be able to start the treatment option of your choice with the very next menstrual cycle following testing.

Every person’s situation is unique. Don’t hesitate to see a reproductive endocrinologist; they’re your best support in the journey to successful pregnancy.

If you’re interested, more information about infertility is available in this FAQ.

Meet the Author

Ellen C. Hayes, MD is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at Aurora Fertility Services in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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